Friday, January 03, 2014

Come Ride With Me...Part 1

I've been back not quite a week from my holiday travels and as usual, I marvel at how long it takes me to unpack, catch-up and return to routine. Nearly there, with blogging about the trip one of the last things on my list. My destination was family in Bakersfield, CA, my mode of travel Amtrak. I've never enjoyed flying, liked it even less once the TSA got involved, and have successfully avoided it since moving to Idaho in 2006. So far, the train or my car gets me where I want to go. Granted, I do have to board the train in the middle of the night, but I'm a night owl anyway. I'm not in that big of a hurry, so the leisurely pace and hours watching the scenery fly by suits me. This particular route, though, was my longest train trip yet - 36 hours with multiple changes of trains. Definitely farther to CA than I expected so there was a bit of mental cheerleading before boarding - you can do this!

First leg of the trip had me heading west to Portland, OR. I've been on this route before, but have always gotten off short of Portland to visit my Hood River friends. I ride coach, the train giving passengers roomier seats that recline more than those on planes and much more leg room, so getting some sleep is possible. This time I left 30 degree weather and snow on the ground to wake up along the Columbia river to overcast and grey. But people who live in this area are a hardy lot and were out walking their dogs and running on this Sunday morning.

I had concerns when I moved into my current abode that it sat so near the railroad tracks. Those tracks really are just yards from my back yard. Yes, the house does shake from time to time, and there's a certain amount of rumbling as trains pass, but some of that is buffered by a screen of trees which allows only a glimpse of cars. I live in a development of rentals so I just figured that was one of those things one had to expect. Imagine my surprise as we got closer to Portland to see luxury houses wedged between river and train tracks with absolutely no buffer of sight or sound. Some looked even closer to the tracks than my own house. Now I don't feel so bad.

Lots of bridges crossing the river down this way. I could just catch a cool reflection of one from my view out the window.

Sometimes under, sometimes over, the train crosses highways. That's a lift bridge and I was intrigued by that white building next to it.

All these pictures are taken from the Washington state side of the river, but eventually, the train too has to cross it into Oregon. Look - there's our bridge and some welcome splashes of color.

Sequence of 4 shots through Amtrak window while crossing bridge.

And then the girders of the bridge were flashing by my window leaving abstract images on my brain. I tried to capture some of them as they flashed by.

The train had been nearly an hour and a half late leaving from home, but managed to make it up and even get us to Portland a little early. By 10:00 a.m., I was hauling my bags off the train and settling into historic Union Station. I'd done a little research before I left and frankly, was not all that keen on the architectural style. Still, maybe there'd be impressive stuff inside like I found in Seattle's King Street Station that I spent some time in a few years ago. No, it seemed pretty bland by comparison.

Maybe I was just tired. I wasn't the only one - several people had stretched out on benches in a side waiting area - we had a 4 hour wait for our train heading south. Somehow, I wasn't surprised that this man was reading Zane Grey - he just looked the type to like that kind of wild west literature. 

I killed some time reading, writing, nibbling on the lunch I'd packed, and then doing some laps around the room. That's when I spotted some decorative ironwork through a window. A peak outside showed many of these flourishes on roof supports. Well, it was something.

So maybe I should give the main area another look, now that I was waking up a bit. While not having as much variety and detail as the Seattle Station, the ceiling did have these decorative elements.

For all the time I spent there, I was not compelled to get out my sketchbook. I seem to have this problem when I travel. Too tired and disoriented to focus or care, actually, not letting anything catch my interest. Maybe later. To be continued in the next post...


Connie Rose said...

Looks like it was a wonderful trip. Looking forward to the next episode. Happy New Year Sheila!

Sherrie Spangler said...

That's a loooooong trip. You're a hardy soul.

The Inside Stori said...

Thank you for documenting your train travel....I've never traveled via train.....and romantically wondered if I'd like it. I'm NOT a good traveler...very I'm really interested in hearing your experiences.

Living to work - working to live said...

Because of my complete ignorance of American geography I just had to get the map out! I'm not quite sure where you started in Idaho, but Hood River looks lovely and tiny ( well according to Wikipedia) I'm intrigued that it is classed as a city - here it would be a town. Bakersfield, on the other hand looks vast - about 4 x the size of Milton Keynes here in England, which as a new town just over 40 years old, would probably feel quite familiar to an American.

And if you'd flown I would not have discovered any of this! So thank you.

Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Sheila!
Thanks for posting!
By the way, Happy New Year.
Loved your pictures, they are beautiful. I laughed when you wrote that you don't like to travel by plane: I thought to myself: a kindred spirit!
Unfortunately, here in Brazil we don't have a huge system of trains anymore: since the sixties the authorities habe been built highways for automobiles. It is so sad!
Thanks again for posting.
It is so cool seeing a little piece of USA by your eyes.